Writing an Annotated Bibliography

You may have writing assignments that require an annotated bibliography. A bibliography is also known as “references” or “works cited” and provides publication information (such as author and year of publication). An annotation is a summary or evaluation. Therefore, an annotated bibliography consists of a list of sources in which each source is accompanied by a summary or evaluation of the source. Think of it as a References page or Works Cited page with extra information about each source.


For each source consulted, list the citation first and follow it with an annotation. The citation may be written in MLA or APA format, depending on your instructor. The annotation will be written in paragraph form. The length of the annotation may range from a few sentences to a few pages. In general, a satisfactory annotation is approximately 100-200 words in length. Annotations may summarize, assess, or reflect on the source (or may combine any of these three).

Refer to your assignment for specific instructions regarding spacing, organization, and other formatting concerns. Use hanging indents for citations longer than one line in MLA format.

MLA Annotation Example

King, Stephen. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. New York: Scribner, 2000.

This writing guide offers helpful hints to novice writers. In this book, King begins by relating the story of his personal journey to success. He discusses his childhood, his first forays into writing, and his ultimate success.  The second section discusses the mechanics of writing. King goes into great detail about how to write and focuses on the dedication required to become a great writer. Later in the book, King discusses the car accident that nearly took his life and the impact it had on his own writing. One of most interesting aspects of this writing guide is the marked manuscripts and drafts King includes to illustrate his points.

APA Annotation Example

King, S. (2000). On writing: A memoir of the craft. New York: Scribner.

In this writing guide, King recalls his journey to becoming a successful author and offers advice to aspiring writers. His personal stories focus on pivotal moments in his life that led him to a career in writing fiction. In conjunction with his own experiences, King guides novice writers through the difficulties of pursuing a career in writing. Using many examples from famous authors, King informs the reader how to write successfully. While he offers lots of helpful tips, it should be mentioned that this guide focuses solely on King’s personal opinions about writing.